If you’re planning to purchase a purebred puppy then it’s likely that the breeder will have a contract for you to read and sign. This is perfectly normal with most good breeders. Purebred puppy contracts are a way for the breeder to spell out what is expected of them and of you regarding the purchase of the puppy and obligations on both sides. Here’s what you should know about these contracts before you sign.
What is a contract with a breeder?
Your contract with a breeder should contain the factual information about the puppy you are buying such as the puppy’s parents, their registration numbers, the litter number, and the registration application number for the puppy. All of this information can help identify the puppy in case there is any dispute later. In this way the contract acts like a bill of sale. It should state that the breeder is selling the puppy to you, and the terms and conditions that apply, including how much you are paying for the puppy. It should clearly state if you have paid a deposit, or if you are paying in installments and how much you have already paid.
In addition, the contract should state what the breeder guarantees about the puppy. Most breeders will guarantee that the puppy is in good health at the time of purchase and they require you to take the puppy to your veterinarian within a specified time (such as 72 hours) to confirm that the puppy is healthy at the time of purchase. Some illnesses such as parvo or other diseases that can affect puppies can still occur within about two weeks, but this early visit to the vet protects the breeder, you, and the puppy and makes sure that everyone is satisfied at the start. It also ensures that the puppy gets off to a good start with a new veterinarian.
What else is in a contract?
The breeder’s contract should also outline if the breeder offers any health guarantees for genetic conditions. Like all animals, purebred dogs can suffer from various inherited conditions and some of them can be breed specific. Breeders can outline which conditions they will guarantee; or if a condition should occur, they can state what they will do in that event. This can vary from breeder to breeder so this is something that you and the breeder should discuss and agree upon. If you do not like what the breeder is willing to guarantee or what is in the contract, you can find a different breeder. A breeder cannot force you to sign a contract or buy a puppy. If you have paid a deposit on a puppy, you may or may not get it back, depending on whether it is refundable.
Some breeders will also put other things in their contracts. If you are buying a show quality puppy, for example, the breeder may require you to show the puppy at dog shows. In some cases the breeder may continue as a co-owner until the dog has completed his championship; or the breeder may offer to refund a portion of the puppy’s price once the dog has completed his championship. Things like this depend on the individual breeder. If you are buying a female puppy, the breeder may require you to show her, have her health tests done, and then get a puppy from her later. There can be all sorts of strings attached in some contracts. You do not have to sign a contract like this if it makes you uncomfortable. You can find another breeder. However, you should know that you are sometimes more likely to get a good show puppy if you are willing to work with a breeder who has some of these conditions. From the breeder’s perspective, they are entrusting you with one of their best puppies and they want to make sure that you follow through on showing the dog and having their health tests done, and they want to be able to continue with the next generation. They are not trying to control everything you do with your dog. They want to guide someone who is new to their world.
Some breeders might put something in the contract about feeding a specific dog food or following a certain vaccination schedule; and if these provisions are not followed, the contract is void. Again, it’s up to you whether you agree to sign a contract like this. Some breeders have been breeding a certain breed for 40-50 years and they are breed experts. It’s often a good idea to follow their advice, but the decision is yours.
Before you decide that all of these contracts are awful and you would never sign one, keep in mind that most dog rescues and many animal shelters also have contracts for people who take one of their dogs now, too. It’s not just dog breeders who have contracts.
The important thing is for you to find a breeder you like, who has healthy dogs you like. Many things can be worked out before they are put in a contract. Be sure to read any contract carefully before you sign it and make sure you understand it thoroughly. Most of the time agreements between breeders and buyers go smoothly but it’s always possible that you might have to re-visit your commitments later.